by Derick McKinney on Unsplash

Puerto Rico: Bridging the gap through art

Laura had always dreamed of doing creative outreach with her ABU Puerto Rico fellowship. When she heard that other movements in Latin America had organised an arts festival, she was inspired. With funding from the IFES Innovation and Evangelism project, Laura and a group of 20 students organized a week-long arts festival. The festival featured a range of activities including a series of talks on subjects like ‘art and social justice’, and Bible studies.  They wanted to get students thinking about the God who created them, and how Christian values motivate a lifestyle that cares about society.

Through the week they kept hearing: why are you doing this? The students on campus were surprised to find that Christians cared about social issues and the arts. It opened the door for dialogue. In Puerto Rico, many young people feel over-saturated with religion.  The island is traditionally Catholic. They think they know the gospel already. But a creative event like this bridged the gap, breaking down barriers towards evangelical Christians.

Students have found that art can get people sharing deeply – whether or not the artwork is overtly ‘Christian’ in nature. That has been the experience of ABU staff worker and professional artist José.

He believes art can create space for conversation and can deepen relationships:

“Art is common ground for humans. It’s a shared language. It allows dialogue. When people see my artwork, they want to know what’s behind it. And then you have permission to talk about almost anything, and it doesn’t feel uncomfortable.”

During COVID-19, art has created opportunities for outreach online. Movements around the world are using films, literature, and artwork as subject material for online discussion groups. The exploratory nature of these discussions often allows them to take a spiritual turn. This week let’s pray for movements like ABUB who are using art to spark dialogue about faith.

  • Pray for groups who have taken their art outreach online. Pray for fruitful discussions about faith.
  • Pray that students and staff with creative gifts will feel encouraged to incorporate them in their ministry.
  • Pray that non-believing students will feel comfortable opening up to IFES students and staff through engaging in art.
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